High complexity products or services usually causes high dependencies within and outside the organisation.

It’s us against the rest of the world

We have experienced in recent years that many of our clients stumble upon this phenomenon again and again. We have often observed that managers try to reduce dependencies with their teams.

Usually, an “us versus them” behaviour then develops, which may work within the team, but at the same time usually causes the motivation in the group to drop quickly because the team members realise that they can only achieve little without “the others”. Conflicts with the neighbouring departments are pre-programmed, especially if the employees are attached to a cause-and-effect principle in their thinking instead of being aware of the existing complexity.

Another “popular” pattern is:


Leaders try to increase their sphere of power to influence upstream areas that are not functioning as they should. Very often, this shifts the “fault line” to the border of the new sphere of influence or creates new problem areas.

Should there be dependencies at all?
The ideal company is organised in fully autonomous, cross-functional teams. These teams can continuously deliver value from start to finish without external dependencies. However, this is not realistic.

Some dependencies are due to low or overly complicated organisational design, and teams should eliminate them. Other dependencies are essential for risk management or technical reasons. It is, therefore, a matter of continually ensuring removing those unnecessary dependencies.

Successful dependency management ensures that dependencies are visible and integrated into the planning and execution of work processes. An excellent method to make these dependencies visible is Kanban.

Successfully reducing and managing dependencies

It is always worth finding out which goals you need to follow in complex organisations to create more customer value by reducing dependencies.

In most cases, the management sets the direction via strategic goals regarding “change” to become better or faster. These goals are then cascaded downwards, and each area or department then tries to achieve its goals. In some organisations, management also takes pride in giving conflicting goals to the divisions because they believe that everyone will make an extra effort to get the best possible out of it for the organisation.

We believe that this approach has become outdated. Optimising individual departments or areas usually does not lead to the desired success. When a team becomes “faster”, this creates so much wind in the organisation that the complexity usually increases further, and the overall system becomes slower.

We, therefore, recommend that the leadership team gradually realign the organisation to reduce dependencies. The focus should be on the customer and the value-adding activities. It is essential to keep the entire organisation in mind and not in particular areas only. 

Would you like to learn more?
Please feel free to contact us.

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